Cherry's Parenting Dilemmas: Where I went for advice
I have a confession. Before I had a kid, I thought parenting was...
a) a doddle
c) total instinctual
What I have experienced is that...
a) it can be pretty complicated
b) it is far from boring
c) I need help
I used to walk past playgrounds on my way to the pub/club/shops and think to myself "wow those parents look bored". I realise now that they aren't bored because being with your child is both surprisingly fun and challenging (okay, so sometimes playing peek-a-boo for the hundredth time is a touch boring).
One of the things I'm often told is "oh, don't fret about it, trust your instincts". Well, I have found that my instincts can sometimes be pretty unhelpful.
For example, my daughter does not like sitting in her high-chair... oh no she does not. My instincts told me that it wasn't a big deal and it was more important that mealtimes were relaxed. In reality, this has meant I have spent the past year chasing her around with a spoon or leaving bowls of food on the floor in the hope she will eat something. Eating in restaurants or having a simple cuppa in a cafe is a no-go.
I have since tried and tested a few new tactics, spoken to dozens of mums, been on a dozen websites, read a few books and come up with my a solution: no chair, no food. I won't bore you with the details of why or how this works, but, for some reason, it just does. But there is no way on earth my instincts would have given me this information at the start.
What I have learnt from experiences like this, and from making Cherry's Parenting Dilemmas, is that being a good parent doesn't just happen overnight. Like most things, it is a skill that you learn and that you can become better at. But I have found that there is one tool that is, without a doubt, the best help in this quest to become a better parent: the internet.
Whilst millions of excellent people have been brought up by parents who could have never even imagined the internet, I honestly don't know what I'd do without it. It has calmed me in moments of panic, it has comforted me in moments of isolation, it has made me wee my pants in moments of shared ridiculousness. It is parental gold dust.
I'm sure for some people the vast sea of information can actually just add confusion to the parenting malarky. But, for me, it has been an invaluable tool. Some of my favourite parenting online tools are mumsnet (praise be), BabyCentre and Mums Like You. Some social networking sites have also been very informative. Type in any question, no matter how absurd or random, and you will find a huge community of parents discussing the same thing. And often, they have collectively come up with some pretty brilliant solutions.
It is a substitute for a local community sharing stories and offering advice - except multiply that by a thousand and extend it's availability to 24 hours a day. Everyone can get involved and offer their words of wisdom. Maybe one day, after many trials and errors, no chair, no food will help a parent who is tired of chasing their children around the kitchen with spoons of bolognese.
Cherry Healey presents Cherry's Parenting Dilemmas on Monday at 9pm.
Next week, Cherry will be tackling what money means to women in Britain today here on the blog and you can watch Cherry's Cash Dilemmas on Monday 15th August at 9pm.
Join in the conversation and get tweeting, the hashtag is #bbc3cherry.
- NHS Guide to parenting in the early years
- National Childbirth Trust (NCT)
- Family Lives
- Bringing Up Britain
- BBC Parenting
- Is Breast Best? Cherry Healey Investigates
- Visit Cherry Healey's blog